Open Letter Addressed to the South-Western Governors: The historical contributions of Olufunmilayo Kuti, Kudirat Abiola, and Tolulope Arotile should be recognised
By Dr. Bukola Adeniji, Think Yoruba First-Gen Sec
It is refreshing news when the new administration of Asiwaju Bola Adekunle Tinubu appointed Mrs. Adepoju Wuraola as the new acting comptroller general of Nigeria Immigration services. It beckons the question if Yoruba women will finally take a center stage in the administration of Nigeria. As the 16th president of Nigeria is sworn into office, one must never forget the sacrifices of heroes past who paid the ultimate prize on the road to the democracy that Nigeria enjoys today.
Mrs. Funmilayo Kuti, the lioness of Lisabi was an extraordinary woman that perhaps could have become an Orisa if Yoruba had kept our traditional practices of deification of the brave and extraordinary ones among us. Many remember Mrs. Kuti as the mother of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti, as the first woman to drove a car in Nigeria and for her audacious role in the temporary abdication of the corrupted Alake Oladapo Ademola II from his palace in 1949. Perhaps, the most life changing role Mrs Kuti played in the First republic was her boldness to run as an independent candidate against the mega political party NCNC which she was a co-founder, her independent candidacy splitted NCNC votes and in so doing she helped the AG retain control in the western region. Mrs Funmi perhaps was the first woman to form her own political party in Nigeria by her formation of the Commoners Peoples Party in Abeokuta. Till today, Mrs Funmilayo Kuti do not have any edifice named for her in honor of her service and her contribution to the democratic processes of the South Western region of Nigeria.
On June 4th, 1996, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was murdered in cold blood on the street of Lagos by the order from the FGN sitting president at the time, Major General Sanni Abacha, her offense, she was bold enough to demand for democracy and Justice. Not only was her husband’s electoral mandate stolen from his Victorious election on June 12th, 1993, Kudirat was murdered for her activism to return the mandate and restore democracy to Nigeria. As soldiers died at war in defense of a country they believed in, Kudirat died for democracy to reign in Nigeria. she was a housewife who felt that an injustice to one was an injustice to all. Till today, no edifice has been named in remembrance of Kudirat abiola in the South Western region of Nigeria where she was murdered in cold blood. She was a pillar of democracy that Nigeria enjoys today.
Tolulope Oluwatosin Arotile was 24 years old when she was killed under a suspicious vehicle accident. She was the finest and youngest first female combat helicopter that Nigeria ever produced. Her precision in the the taking out of terrorists camps in Northern Nigeria via her helicopter maneuvers in bombing the terrorists has no match and she was destined for greatness before her life was unjustly cut short by enemies of progress. Tolu was a blast from the past, she was a seed of Oranmiyan, and the Ẹdun Ara of Sango, anywhere she flew she was dropping fire on the houses of the evil ones. Ex president Muhammadu Buhari described her as “fearless, deadly and effective” in her fight against ISIS terrorists. Tolulope was an Ogo Adulawo that deserved an edifice to be named after her as the appreciation of her fearlessness and contribution to the democratic government that Nigeria is enjoying. If the Boko Haram terrorist were not taken out by Tolu, democracy would have left Nigeria a long time ago. Till today, the South Western region of Nigeria is yet to honor Tolulope by naming an edifice for her remembrance.
In recent times, the government of the South Western Regions of Nigeria has been naming many new edifices in the past decade after the formal regional governors and other prominent Yoruba men. From Sen Abiola Ajimobi Technical University, to Babajide Raji Fasola and Prof. Wole Soyinka train stations and others, many recent infrastructures in Yorubaland has been named after the sons of the land who had demonstrated bravery and service. These men are well deserving in no doubt, however, are we forgetting that Yorubaland is a land that never relegated women in her governance from the time of Iwasẹ?
I am using this opportunity to appeal to our excellently performing Southwestern Governors to name the upcoming structures in the region (Ogun State Airport, Ekiti State Airport, the new Air Force base in Oyo State, Ondo State Free Trade Zone etc) to the above brave Yoruba women who were simply the best.